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Why Are There No Good Plays About Jesus?

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So, uh, did this:

"I love Jesus," he chuckles. "I'd love to write about him. To me he's a bit like Osama bin Laden meets Gandhi.

raise a WTF? from from anyone else?

I guess he's trying to distance himself from the threat of association with conservativism or pro-Americanism, and maybe emphasize what a provocative guy Jesus is, but still, seriously. WTF?

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MattPage   

Mark Goodacre has this story as well, and he laments the description of Jesus as semi-divine. Am I right in thinking that the articel mentions <em>Son of Man</em>? That is an excellent play about Jesus (and doesn't deny his semi divinity as far as I recall.

Matt

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mrmando   

I haven't seen it. McNally almost always deals with homosexuality in his plays, but his better works (e.g., A Perfect Ganesh) bring in other themes as well. The impression of Corpus Christi I got from descriptions I read (and these were positive descriptions) was that this balance was off, and McNally had seized upon Jesus as a provocative hook on which to hang a polemic, rather than approaching Jesus' story for its own intrinsic value. But, as I say, I didn't see the play.

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MattPage   
semi-divinity?

Exactly! I think that's why Mark said "though some alarm bells begin ringing", before quoting this part

"Dennis Potter called his play about the crucifixion, written for television and later staged by the RSC with Joseph Fiennes as Christ, "Son of Man" - instantly loading it by denying Jesus his semi-divinity."

Plus there's a later comment the article makes:

"If you are a believer, he is the son of God and therefore half human and half divine. "

Um no.

Matt

Edited by MattPage

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Ron Reed   

Cotton Patch Gospel can be absolutely extraordinary in performance. I've been in three separate productions, and it's been a highlight of my entire stage life.

*

I saw Corpus Christi, and it was a very powerful experience, and definitely connected with me spiritually. I wonder if some of the polemic edge was blunted by having been directed by a Catholic director? The play is often criticized even more for being anti-Catholic than for being heterodox.

Hmm... A little poking around on the hard drive, and I come up with this, which I wrote before seeing the production;

I don't know about you, but I've always preferred to form my own opinion about things that are important to me. I'm so glad I didn't heed the edicts of too many of my fellow Christians and boycott THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST - as flawed as it was, it deepened my experience of the life and especially the passion of my Lord, and I'll never forget the lively, enthusiastic, enlightening conversation over coffee afterward with Carl Armerding.

So I'm excited to see the Canadian Premiere of Terrence McNally's CORPUS CHRISTI, the controversial play that has Jesus crucified for being a homosexual. I'll admit that I anticipate the experience with as much dread as eagerness: I've read widely about the play, taking in the pros and cons

from theatre critics and anti-gay bigots and socialists and pro-gay

Christians and anti-Christian bigots, thoughtful and thoughtless, insightful and tendentious. What I've read leads me to believe I'm going to have an awful lot of trouble with this show. But that's not a decision I'm going to make without seeing for myself.

Certainly there are aspects of this production that intrigue me. One night after a performance of DAMIEN I went out for dessert with the priest and a couple members of St Francis Catholic parish, and found out that Father Stuart has carried out all the sacraments for the family of his parishoners Michael Fera and Tanja Dixon-Warren - the co-artistic directors of Hoarse Raven Theatre. So it's not like the play is being produced by people who are antagonistic to the Christian faith.

If you're interested, I'd be happy to forward you a Hoarse Raven email I received with information about the show. And here are some bits and pieces I came across in my other reading;

"A serious, even reverent retelling of the Christ story in a modern idiom -- quite close, in its way, to the original...If the point is to make Jesus

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MattPage   

I've never seen "Cotton Patch Gospel" but I'd thought it was a musical rathe than a play. Am I incorrect?

Matt

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mrmando   
I've never seen "Cotton Patch Gospel" but I'd thought it was a musical rathe than a play. Am I incorrect?

Well, "play" is an ubercategory that includes "musicals," at least on this side of the pond.

Cotton Patch Gospel was originally a one-man non-musical play developed by Tom Key, based on Clarence Jordan's "Cotton Patch" translations of the Gospels of Matthew and John. Key premiered it at Seattle's Taproot Theatre in 1981. After that production, he somehow got Harry Chapin involved and rewrote the play as a musical using songs by Chapin, and it ran off Broadway. A few years back rumor had it that Key was reworking the piece again, to be performed with a gospel choir in Atlanta. Don't know what came of that.

Like Ron, I've been in three productions of the musical.

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SDG   

Dorothy Sayers' The Man Born to Be King was written to be performed for radio rather than on the stage, but I expect a stage production could be extrapolated.

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